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Is Aluminum foil Safe?

2016-10-20

I love aluminum foil. It's recyclable, it's shiny, and it is super versatile. It can be used to clean, catch, protect, frighten, scrub, lift, soften, shape, grow, fix, sharpen, steam, attach, boost, and polish.

Yes. When using it cold. When tested cold, as in wrapping a sandwich in the fridge, there was no evidence of aluminum leaching into the food. Using it hot, or even warm, was a different situation.

In every situation tested, heated aluminum foil degraded and leached into the food that was cooking.

I was devastated! In food wrapped in foil, in foil bakeware, and to my extreme disappointment, even in a pan covered by foil — the dangers of aluminum foil were present.

The levels of aluminum leached are significantly higher if the food actually touches the foil, if the food is acidic, or even if spices are added. But those factors are not required. The hotter the heat, the more leaching that occurs. And it doesn’t matter which side of the foil the food is exposed to (supposedly some have a side that is dull, though I have never noticed).

So is this something to worry about?

There are quite a few sources of aluminum in average, day-to-day exposure.

Thanks to antacids, vaccines, antiperspirants, and drinking water, most people are already getting a hefty dose of aluminum. Cooking in aluminum pans or using aluminum foil just increases the exposure.

What’s wrong with increased exposure? Aluminum interferes with the digestion of calcium, phosphorus, and fluoride, and can even result in osteoporosis. It damages the liver, and impairs the kidneys. It is linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons. It leads to colic, sleep disturbance, anemia, and speech problems.

What are the alternatives?

Luckily there are a large range of aluminum-free cooking and bakeware on the market. Cast iron, enameled cast iron, or glass are all great options for the kitchen. If you are looking to avoid the dangers of aluminum foil and aluminum entirely, you will also have to be careful of stainless steel. Layers of stainless steel can be bonded with aluminum.